The Great Train Robbery, 3 Stars

The Great Train Robbery
Main House, The Warren
11th to 14th May 2017

In the early hours of Thursday 8th August 1963, the heist of the century is under way. Signals are scrambled, phone lines cut and millions of pounds of cash – stolen. Five days later the first clues are found, the gang is busted and the rest is history.
But what about the ones that got away?
Join the four forgotten females as they leave behind their kitchen-sink lives and embark on a madcap adventure of mischief and mayhem. Using a raucous combination of physical theatre, live music and clowning, Scratchworks will unfold the untold tale of the unlikely female four.

Produced by Scratchworks
Hanora Kamen
Alice Higginson
Laura Doble
Sian Keen

Review by Richard Lambert, 3 Stars

The venue gets us all off to a bad start. With not many in the audience we were barracked down to the front rows where we had to squash in and hold our coats on our laps. One group bravely tried to sit in the 4th row and were harshly reprimanded and told that “this was not allowed”. Is this part of the performance piece? No, it’s the usual front of house staff “welcome” to the paid audience. Even audience Members who are older, some with walking sticks are told to stand up and sit down for the purpose of letting a few pass along the seatways, squashing us all in. And this is after you’ve climbed the stairs at the main entrance to the rear of the 250 seating rostra, walked down the stair treads without hand rails to get back down to the seats. With a little consideration the side entrance could have been used so the audience, particularly the elderly and those with walking sticks, didn’t have to climb and navigate so many steps.

Also, the 2nd row is on the same level as the 1st row so really not the best seats! Despite this, a quarter of the audience are forced to use this row.

If the seating plan is so important to the front of house usher enjoying his power then why isn’t the venue selling allocated seats to a seating plan in an order instead of using a festival seating system?

I was pleased to see that once the show started some of the braver audience did move to a more comfortable row where they could stretch out a little.

Anyway, Scratchworks more than made up for the venue’s lack of Customer Service and soon had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands! They overcame the poor quality sound system provided by the venue, they created magic without any assistance from the venue’s lighting team, and wowed the audience with plenty of creative and clever ideas. All delivered with experienced timing and tongue in cheek demeanour!

There was loads of audience participation – much enjoyed by the young and old alike. With an extreme of ages covering the full spectrum this show lands well and kept everyone entertained.

Guitars, kazoos, acapella singing, choreographic moments – the show’s construction was fast paced and relentlessly cheerful.

The choreography may lack unison, the singing may have pitch issues, and the black bras of 2 of the 4 girls may show through their white T-shirts but despite this rough and ready presentation the audience rapport was superb!

Shame it’s only on for a few days – a show to be enjoyed by all!